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Payton steps aside

Saints lose one of NFL's best offensive minds

Sean Payton is stepping aside, and that’s a seismic shift for fantasy purposes. He could always be counted on to put together one of the league’s best offenses. He’s long been one of the top few coaches in the game.

Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay. Payton was one of those kind of coaches. In general, when you build your fantasy rosters around coaches of this ilk, good things tend to happen.

Payton was the head coach of the Saints for 15 seasons, and nine of those teams finished in the top 5 in scoring. Only one of his teams ranked lower than 12th in scoring, and it came in the just-completed season, with Payton juggling a menagerie of lesser quarterbacks – Jameis Winston, Taysom Hill, Trevor Siemian and even Ian Book.

Payton took over in New Orleans in 2006, with one Super Bowl title, three NFC Championship game appearances and four teams that won 13 regular-season games. He was suspended for the 2012 season as part of the Bounty Gate scandal.

SEAN PAYTON OVERVIEW
YearTeamWLTPctPtsRk
2006Saints1060.62525.85
2007Saints790.43823.712
2008Saints880.50028.91
2009Saints1330.81331.91
2010Saints1150.68824.011
2011Saints1330.81334.22
2013Saints1150.68825.910
2014Saints790.43825.19
2015Saints790.43825.58
2016Saints790.43829.32
2017Saints1150.68828.04
2018Saints1330.81331.53
2019Saints1330.81328.64
2020Saints1240.75030.15
2021Saints980.52921.419

Payton did his best work with the passing game. In his 15 seasons, the Saints averaged 289 passing yards per game and 33 TD passes per season. Using standard fantasy scoring, nine of his 15 teams finished either 1st, 2nd or 3rd in passing production.

SEAN PAYTON: PASSING PRODUCTION
YearTeamPctYds/GTDIntF PtsRk
2006Saints64.1%289271324.63
2007Saints67.5%276281824.36
2008Saints64.9%317341828.61
2009Saints69.5%281341226.82
2010Saints68.1%290332226.92
2011Saints71.3%344461434.52
2013Saints68.5%323391230.82
2014Saints69.2%298331727.35
2015Saints69.0%325321228.32
2016Saints70.0%329381530.71
2017Saints72.0%27123822.211
2018Saints73.4%26133725.48
2019Saints71.9%27736627.32
2020Saints70.9%24728822.817
2021Saints58.1%202291320.315

The rushing numbers aren’t as eye-popping, but they’re still good. Two thirds of his teams finished with above-average rushing numbers (again, using standard scoring), and nine of his offenses put up top-10 rushing numbers. On his watch, they averaged 113 rushing yards per game and 17 rushing touchdowns per season. Keep in mind that in most of those games, the Saints didn’t get much rushing production out of the quarterback position (with Drew Brees tending to operate from the pocket).

SEAN PAYTON: RUSHING PRODUCTION
YearTeamYd/AttYd/GTDRF PtsRk
2006Saints3.71101912.66
2007Saints3.792149.818
2008Saints4.01002012.510
2009Saints4.51322114.56
2010Saints4.09598.128
2011Saints4.91331612.65
2013Saints3.892108.423
2014Saints4.51141611.78
2015Saints3.8931610.713
2016Saints4.31091711.810
2017Saints4.71292315.11
2018Saints4.31272616.11
2019Saints4.3109129.920
2020Saints4.61423018.32
2021Saints3.91171210.121

I don’t think Payton is done. He’s only 58, making this seem like more of a step back to take a breather. I think he more likely just didn’t like the uphill situation he would have been in with the Saints, with no quarterback and extensive salary cap issues. That’s not a team that’s situated to contend for a Super Bowl in the near future.

I expect Payton will be back in 2023, and he’ll be landing in a far more favorable situation (with the Cowboys looking like the clear frontrunners). Wherever Payton lands, it shouldn’t be long before that team is putting up top-level offensive numbers.

—Ian Allan

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